On Sunday, Nov. 4, chef Dan Churchill crossed the finish line for MDA.
The Australian-born, New York-based chef tackled 26 miles in the TCS New York City Marathon representing MDA’s Team Momentum.
“This is genuinely a very big privilege and honor for me, on a personal level and giving back,” Dan says. “[The marathon] is always something I’ve wanted to do, and I’m absolutely honored to do it on a larger scale to bring awareness to what organizations like MDA are trying to achieve. It’s not just about raising funds but about real impact.”
Team Momentum draws endurance runners and walkers to raise crucial funds that fuel MDA’s mission to provide kids and adults living with neuromuscular disease with everyday support programs, expert clinical care and innovative treatments and cures. Seasoned and first-time marathoners like Dan all are welcome; to date, they’ve collectively raised nearly $5 million for MDA.
Fifty Team Momentum runners hit the New York Marathon pavement this year, raising $130,000. The Friday before the race, Dan hosted the team at his NoLIta neighborhood restaurant, Charley St, in Manhattan. Charley St specializes in healthful grain bowls and toasts, and Dan made sure team members had options for plenty of pre-run carbs (or none, depending on their dietary preferences). The dinner not only honored the team but furthered Dan’s own mission to make good food accessible.
He focuses on educating people not just to cook but to understand cooking and nutrition as part of an overall healthy, active lifestyle. He says MDA’s work creating opportunities for kids to learn life skills at Summer Camp and furthering research to better treatments for every person living with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related neuromuscular diseases dovetails with his work’s goals.
And when it comes to that personal goal — the marathon itself — Dan says the Team Momentum training experience was a really cool one.
“I’ve run in places in New York that I never knew about,” he says. He also maintained his routine during a trip to London, where he ran past Big Ben. He had some training experience from his own background as a health coach (he has a degree in exercise science, too), but he and a friend in Boston put together a marathon training schedule based on gradual load increases, stretching and rolling, and “lots and lots of water.”
Dan says he was excited to see just how involved New Yorkers would get in the marathon — he’d heard the city took it seriously. People reached out to him to tell him to watch for a specific DJ on a certain corner or a coffee shop on another as he passed through the city’s five boroughs.
And then, he was looking forward to celebrating the heart of the hard work.
“Of course I’m looking forward to getting all the runners together and chatting about what we’ve achieved and the great reason why we’ve done it,” he says. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so touched by an organization doing work with kids and their families. Their spirit is absolutely inspiring.
“I want people to realize if they get behind what MDA is doing,” he says, “it’s for an amazing cause.”
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